John Bentham-Dinsdale, “Barbary Pirates.” via.
Anyone old enough to remember life before the Internet may remember the infamous luxury tax. In an attempt to raise government revenues, Washington levied a ten percent tax on cars valued above $30,000, boats above $100,000, jewelry and furs above $10,000 and private planes above $250,000. Congressional leaders crowed publicly about how the rich would finally be paying their fair share, even convincing President George H.W. Bush to renounce his ‘no new taxes’ pledge” and sign the bill.
Almost immediately these class warriors realized how badly their best intentions missed the mark. The punitive new taxes took in $97 million less in their first year than had been projected for the simple reason that there were now a lot fewer people buying these products.
The New England boat building industry was left devastated—a staple of the economy in the states of key legislators who had pushed the law. Yacht retailers reported a 77 percent drop in sales that year and boat builders estimated layoffs at 25,000. By some reports, the additional unemployment insurance paid out due to the crippled industries actually resulted in a netdecrease of revenue.
By 1996, with bipartisan support, Congress voted to repeal this numb-skulled attempt to manipulate consumer behavior. Two decades later, it’s beginning to look like Congress may not have learned—or forgotten—this lesson in unintended consequences. I’m referring to SOPA—the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act.
Like the luxury tax before it, the objective of this act—the theft of Internet content—is noble. It is undeniable that unscrupulous operators of sites like The Pirate Bay are blatantly stealing movies or music and cashing in on them. And the powerful entertainment lobby is perfectly justified in protecting these rights—but is federal legislation the answer? Are we ready to give faceless bureaucrats in Washington DC, many of whom would be hard pressed to distinguish Twitter from kitty litter, carte blanche to effectively censor the Internet for a bunch of Hollywood lawyers?
As always, the devil is in the details, and considering recent legislation easily consumes thousands of pages—if not trees—there is a lot of detail waiting to feed the unintended consequences machine. Much of this detail involves the arcane art of copyright law, an infinitely fertile field for mischief, intended or otherwise. The punishments for alleged copyright abuse as defined by SOPA are significant and, while targeted at those who make their dishonest livings through piracy, the draconian measures outlined in this legislation will undoubtedly impact the unsuspecting and the innocent as well.
Paul Tassi is a freelance journalist you also runs the popular online movie/TV/gaming site “Unreality.” In a recent Forbes story, Paul tells of the Congressional hearings where SOPA was debated. The consensus among Congress, Paul recounts, was merely that, “piracy sounds bad, therefore we should pass this anti-piracy bill,” or one representative who wanted to pass the bill, “because she was bored”(remember that kitty litter…).
“These elected officials representatives have no idea the amount of power they’re giving the entertainment industry,” argues Tassi (or, more darkly, know exactly how much power is being transferred, but also know exactly how dangerously low their re-election campaign funds are). The point being that there are those in Congress who, without taking the time to understand even the most basic implications, would take action that has the potential of destroying an entire industry—one that is of the few remaining engines of growth in the US economy.
In 1801, president Thomas Jefferson, still looking for respect among the seasoned states of Europe, sent a fleet of warships from our young US Navy to the northern African coast to dispatch the Barbary pirates, who were wrecking havoc on ocean trade. Unfortunately, today’s Internet pirates are not so easily identified, and square-rigged frigates carrying cannon are more effective weapons than those born by clueless bureaucrats with reams of new regulations and campaign war chests to fill.
Milo Winter, “The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg.” 1919. Via.
Now is hardly the time to interfere with one of the last industries creating jobs. “Just say no” to Hollywood lobbyists and their Capital Hill stooges who only threaten to kill another golden goose.
Trapit CEO and Co-founder
Social selling can be an extremely effective strategy. But for it to work, sales reps need to use the right networks, and that means using the networks that buyers are on.
Think of it like the “tree in a forest” thought experiment: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? But instead of trees, we have sales reps. If a sales rep writes a LinkedIn update and no buyer sees it, does it matter?
Given that there are dozens of social networks, it can be difficult choosing the right ones. The following tips should help you get started – no matter where you live or which industry you’re in.
Familiarize Yourself with the Research
Thanks to LinkedIn’s marketing efforts, many people assume that social selling is synonymous with LinkedIn. However, that’s not the case. For instance, in China, you might have more luck engaging your buyers through WeChat or Weibo or QZone.
Or if you’re in Europe, you might want to maintain relationships with your customers through Twitter and WhatsApp – in addition to LinkedIn.
Bottom line: The web is full of research on social network use, and it’s broken down by geography and industry. Take some time to explore it.
Ask Your Customers
General research can be a great starting point, but it won’t necessarily give you all the answers. There’s a much better way to determine which networks you should use: Query your customers about where they spend their time. Ask them next time you see them in person, work the question into a check-in call, or send them a questionnaire via email.
As you discuss social networks with your customers, remember to ask them about professional appropriateness. How would they react if you reached out to them on the networks they use? For example, your customers might use Facebook all the time. But they might find it creepy if you, their sales rep, friended them on Facebook because they use Facebook for personal reasons rather than professional reasons.
Ask Your Sales Enablement Team to Run a Survey
Sometimes, it’s not feasible to ask your customers about their social network use. In that case, your sales enablement team might be able to assist you by running a survey to your target geographies and industries.
In the questionnaire, the sales enablement team should ask respondents to rate the networks based on frequency of use. In addition, they should ask respondents which networks they use for business purposes rather than private purposes. As we mentioned above, sales reps need to choose networks that buyers use for professional purposes. Otherwise, they might scare potential customers away.
Ask Your Marketing Team Where Content Resonates
Don’t be afraid to partner with marketing when you launch a social selling program. They’ve been at the social media game for a while, and they should have some good data points on what’s working.
For example, your marketing department should know which social networks drive the most engagement for your company. Chances are good that, if your company’s content resonates on those networks, your buyers are also on those networks.
But remember: There’s a difference between how marketers use social networks and how sales reps use social networks. Marketers are trying to communicate to large numbers of people. Sales reps, on the other hand, are trying to form one-to-one relationships. Given this fundamental difference, salespeople might explore other channels. For example, they might want to try WhatsApp or another messaging app, which many marketers have not used when communicating with customers.
How Did You Determine Which Networks to Use?
The tips above should get you pointed in the right direction. If you have had experience choosing networks for B2B sales, leave a comment below, and let us know how you made your decision.
Until next time,
That’s how many search results pop up when I ask Google, “What’s the best time to post on Facebook?”
Many of those results give me ostensibly great tips. For instance, many bloggers give instructions similar to the following ones: “Don’t post from 5pm to 7pm. People are commuting, so they won’t be able to read articles when they are in their cars.”
At first, the suggestion makes sense. I don’t want to post content while my audience is in the car. But wait! Is that 5pm to 7pm Eastern or Pacific? If I have an audience on both coasts, what do I do? Isn’t someone always commuting?
Le sigh. So, how do you figure things out? Is there a way to take some of the guesswork out of curating articles on social media?
There is. In this blog post, I’ll show a more scientific way of figuring out when to curate content on Facebook and Twitter. Let’s get started, shall we?
Believe it or not, Facebook makes timing posts a cinch. All the information you need is in Facebook’s analytics tools. There, you can find information about the days and times that your audience tends to be online.
Here’s how to harness the power of Facebook’s analytics.
Step 1: Click on the “Insights” tab at the top of your Facebook page.
Step 2: Next click on the “Posts” tab.
Step 3: Look to see which days are popular with your audience members
In this sample chart, you can see that the page’s followers are consistently online throughout the week. So any day of the week, I would have a fairly good opportunity of engaging my fans. But if I were the manager of this sample Facebook page, I’d make sure that I were posting Wednesday through Saturday.
Step 4: Check to see what time of day your audience members typically are online
If I really want to reach my audience, I would post mostly between 10am and 2pm PT. Note: The times are listed in the time zone of your local computer.
Step 5: To drill down even further, click on a specific day of the week and look at when your users are online on that specific day.
As you can see in this example graph, traffic spikes a little later on Thursdays. Unlike the composite graph (see step 4), which peaks at 2pm PT, Facebook traffic spikes around 3pm PT.
Step 6: Put all the info together and schedule posts accordingly.
For the example above, I would post Wednesday through Saturday twice a day – once around 10am and once around 2pm.
Note: These graphs are based on data from one week, so the Facebook insights are not the end-all-be-all solution to timing your posts. But they are a good starting place, and if you use the tool correctly, you’ll no longer post at 12am when very few of your followers are online.
The folks at Moz are all kinds of genius. They built this site called “Follower Wonk,” which enables you to analyze the behavior of your Twitter following. As part of this freemium service, the tool tells you when your followers are active online.
Here’s how to get that data.
Step 1: Go to Followerwonk.com and click on the “Analyze Followers” tab at the top of the page.
Step 2: Type in the Twitter handle you want to analyze
Step 3: Select “Analyze their followers” from the drop-down menu and hit “Do it.”
Step 4: Locate the chart titled “Most active hours of your followers.”
Step 5: Analyze the chart.
As you can see, Trapit’s followers are really active from 7am to 11am PT. So, if I were scheduling Trapit’s tweets, I would make sure that we were curating at those times with the hope that the audience would see, retweet, favorite, and/or click on a link.
Again, this is not the end-all-be-all solution, but it is a good starting point. Best of luck with your curation efforts!
P.S. Want more tips like these? Subscribe to the Trapit blog by clicking the button below.
Image credit: La persistencia de la memoria, Salvador Dalí, MOMA in New York City
I’m a Broncos fan, and boy was last night hard to watch. I’m also a marketer. This year, the anticipation of the Super Bowl held the promise of my beloved Broncos returning to dominance, and lessons through entertainment from brands that are household names and those looking to gain new audiences. According to the Content Marketing Institute, Content Marketing is “the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling.” I read post after post from “fans” that watched the Super Bowl last night for the art. At Trapit we are feverishly working to build tools that enable marketers to surface only the most relevant content for their constituents. This year I was really excited to see how brands would incorporate content marketing elements into their commercials. Let’s take a look at a couple examples:
Squarespace: “A Better Web Awaits” –Believe it or not, Squarespace has been around for 10 years. This commercial features one web challenge after another for a total of 74 annoying things about the internet from things like virus warnings to a dig on parents who over-share photos of their children on social networks. They close with “we can’t change what the web has become but we can change what it will be, a better web starts with your website.” This commercial appeals to the individual pains as a consumer on the internet, and then attempts to switch to appealing to a business or brand. Perhaps if it had stuck with one user over the other it would have been more successful. This one is getting low marks all the way around this morning.
Coca Cola America is Beautiful- In this mashup of different voices and languages there are unique American faces — white, brown, young, old, gay, straight, all singing different portions of America is the beautiful. Coca Cola has always strived to be a brand that unites consumers around a single idea that we are many but united. This commercial is creating a great deal of buzz and a fare amount of backlash for Coca Cola. Buzz is buzz so this one goes down for a win for Coca Cola.
Beats: Goldilocks- The commercial opens with “Once there was a girl hungry for the perfect music to dance to”. Beats music is using the Super Bowl as their launching pad for what they call the 2nd generation of music streaming services. When you visit their website, they describe their product as the first music service that understands you. Pandora, Netflix, and Amazon are stellar brand examples of how this type of personalization changes the consumer experience. Beats is going after mainstream listeners and, more specifically, women. According to Nielsen demographic data, 46% of the Super Bowl viewing audience is female, and more women watch the game than the Oscars, Grammys, and Emmys combined. I’ve been a loyal Spotify listener for almost two years, but I’m signing up for Beats today to check them out. Their ad worked on this woman.
Microsoft: “Empowering” Microsoft has been a long time supporter of the Seattle Seahawks, but in this ad campaign we see Microsoft attempting to bring humanity and technology together. They dabbled with this in the 90s but for the better part of the last 20 years this is an angle they have stayed away from. They are getting personal. It’s hard to watch this and not feel a tinge of gratitude for how technology enriches our lives. Win for Microsoft.
I have had a John Elway Starting Line-up figurine since I was a kid. It went to college with me, and it’s been on every desk for every job I have had in the last twenty years. That figurine and the memories of him serve as a constant reminder to me to never give up, leave it all on the field, and strive for excellence. Every time I see it I am flooded with childhood and professional memories of challenge and triumph. Let’s face it, most of us will never get the chance to play in the Super Bowl or work on a Super Bowl campaign. But, I’m convinced there has never been a better time to be a marketer. The best marketing efforts get personal and provide value. When consumers feel like you get them and have something worthwhile to give and you aren’t just selling them, they will flock to your brand. Are you doing everything you can to give your prospects and customers the content they need to be successful? At Trapit, we believe the content you share has to be personal and relevant. If you want to learn more about how we do that, come check out one of our demos.
In the era of the self-directed buyer, it has become increasingly more difficult for salespeople to get meetings with potential customers, and when they do book a meeting, poof! The buyer vanishes into thin air afterwards.
In part, this struggle could be the result of timid salespeople. But, truth be told, the sales team isn’t always to blame. Sometimes, it’s the result of lackluster sales enablement. Sometimes, your sales team doesn’t have access to the insights they need to be successful.
The Content and Insights Buyers Want
What do your buyers want? That’s what every marketer or salesperson is trying to determine. Luckily, some recent research sheds light on the subject.
The firm MarketingSherpa dove into this question a couple years ago, and they found that 82% of prospects wanted content geared towards specific industries. In other words, potential customers don’t want general information. They want information about their industry.
This finding has resurfaced in more recent research, as well. Forrester polled 319 executive-level buyers, asking them about their recent encounters with salespeople. 57% of those executives indicated that the vendors’ salespeople were not knowledgeable about their customers’ industries.
That’s alarming. Why do the majority of salespeople know so little about their buyers’ industries?
The answer lies in our attitudes towards sales enablement.
When we empower our sales teams, we often focus on the product and sharpening our unique value proposition. However, as Forrester’s research illustrates, product knowledge is not the biggest problem facing sales teams today. The majority of salespeople (62%) understand their product, according to executive-level buyers.
What salespeople need help understanding is their buyers’ world. Without that knowledge, keeping buyers’ attention is difficult.
How Do You Supply Sales with Industry-Specific Insight?
If you’re a marketer, your palms are sweating right now. On top of creating general content for your company, you’re wondering how you will have time to create industry-specific content for your sales team. Is it even possible for your team to create more content?
Probably not. Your team is creating at least 320 pieces of content per month – perhaps more if you’re at a midsize or large enterprise.
The solution: Work smarter – not harder. As a marketer, you have options that don’t involve creating more content.
Instead of tirelessly creating more content about industries, you can empower your sales organization with third-party content that discusses specific industries. For example, you might share blog posts about recent research related to the Manufacturing industry or the latest news articles about the Financial Services industries.
Let’s face it. Budgets are limited. Companies cannot do extensive original research on every industry, nor can marketers create content about every industry. In fact, only 32% of marketers are able to produce enough blog posts, research reports, infographics, etc. to fit their needs.
So, forward-thinking sales enablement teams are heading in a different direction. Rather than fretting over creating original content, they are supplying their salespeople with third-party content. Not only does this make life easier for marketers; it makes salespeople more effective. As Maribeth Ross of the Aberdeen Group notes:
So, what are you waiting for?
Sparking Sales with Industry-Specific Content
Empowered with content, not only will your sales team stay abreast of what’s happening in their customers’ industries; they can share those insights with their customers. In turn, your sellers will give your customers exactly what they expect from your team.
Getting Started with Curating Third-Party Content
Fill out this workbook and start devising your plan today!
In the words of Tina Turner, “What’s marketing got to do, got to do with it? Who needs a marketer when a marketer can be broken?”
Errrm, that last line didn’t quite work out the way we wanted it to. Though, it does capture the sentiment that some sales leaders feel. How many times have you heard the following line? It’s “social selling” – not “social marketing.” Why should marketing be involved?
True, sales reps will be the primary practitioners of social selling. Nevertheless, marketers can and should provide critical support for social selling programs. Let’s take a look at what marketing’s got to do with it.
Before marketers offer a helping hand, they need to understand the differences between B2B social selling and social media marketing. While some tactics will cross over, others will not. Social selling, after all, is much more personal. Its goal is to connect with people, to foster personal relationships with them, and to add value – with the end goal of having sales conversations offline.
The industry analysts have written a lot about social selling, and one message comes across loud and clear: Sales teams need the support of their marketing teams. Forrester specifically prescribes:
“Marketers need to team with their sales counterparts to implement a balanced program that will provide the sales organization with realistic guardrails and quality content, while allowing them the flexibility to engage on social channels in a way that is most relevant to their professional networks.”
Read more tips in this blog post.
The customer’s digital experience is at the core of today’s B2B marketing organization. In a short period of time, content marketing, social media marketing, and marketing automation have gone from “nice-to-haves” to “must-haves” and from “must-haves” to “givens.”
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for today’s sales organizations. By and large, sales teams remain digitally immature. Compared to their marketing counterparts, salespeople have not embraced the modern customer’s experience, and that has profound ramifications for businesses. This post takes a closer look at what’s happening.
Jill Rowley tugs at the same thread, but from a slightly different angle. She highlights that sales teams aren’t part of the digital transformation conversation, and part of the problem stems from sales teams’ unwavering mindsets. The old way of selling was grounded in this thought: we want to SELL something. And that’s where many sales teams are stuck. But nowadays, there’s a new way of selling: we will show you exactly why, when, and how it benefits you to make a purchase.
Read more of Jill’s thoughts on LinkedIn.
Nearly 80% of companies have not aligned their social selling strategies with their marketing’s social strategies. And that’s having negative repercussions on social selling programs.
In today’s complex buying environment, where large buying committees struggle to arrive at a consensus, building deeper relationships with customers is necessary. That’s why it’s more important than ever for sales and marketing teams to work together. This post discusses how the two departments can align their strategies along three poles: the customer, content, and messaging.
Launching a social selling program requires change management. In part, that means engaging stakeholders across departments, especially marketing.
If you’re launching a social selling program for the first time, this blog post is a must-read. It walks you through eight of the essential pillars for launching a new program and entrenching a change in behavior with your sales reps and employees.
Want to Learn More about Social Selling?
Check out the Executive Guide to Social Selling.
Posted byMark Bajus
As more and more salespeople become active on social media, sales leaders need to provide their teams guidance. The best way to do that is by creating a playbook.
A social selling playbook describes how your salespeople should engage with their buyers on social networks. It makes sure that your entire team is consistent, while also guiding them through the sometimes troubled waters of social media.
Below, you’ll find a framework for creating your playbook, including scenarios that may arise and suggested responses that your sales team can use. This framework is not exhaustive. Rather, it’s meant to get you thinking about how you want your salespeople to act on social media.
For example, when should they say silent?
Indicate When Salespeople Shouldn’t Respond
Not every LinkedIn comment or Twitter question needs or merits a response. This is a hard lesson to learn, and it’s one that you should include in your playbook.
For example, you might encourage your salespeople to remain silent when they come across:
- Generic mentions of the company without any commentary
- Sarcastic, derogatory, or otherwise mean-spirited remarks
There may come a time when disgruntled customers or prospects decide to take their frustration out on your salespeople. Knowing when to remain silent will be helpful for your salespeople. So, take the time to figure that out now, before your salespeople start using social networks.
Arm Salespeople with Sample Responses
When creating your playbook, don’t focus solely on what sales reps shouldn’t do. That will make them nervous and scared of social networks. Instead, give them examples of what they should do. That way, they feel empowered.
Questions: It helps to walk your sales reps through sample scenarios. Let’s start with something basic. Let’s say that someone asks your salesperson a product-related question. Here’s a flowchart that you might use.
Comments and Replies: On Twitter and LinkedIn, your salespeople should routinely share great content that positions them as go-to resources. Of course, when they share content effectively, they will receive comments and replies. This flowchart can help them deal with replies and comments:
Competitors: It’s fairly common for people to mention competitors on social media. What should your salespeople do in those situations? The answer to that question varies from organization to organization. Here’s a sample flowchart to get you thinking about your strategy:
For salespeople, the question of competitors will be a big one. Be prepared to answer the following questions:
- If a sales rep’s prospect is tweeting at your competitor, should the sales rep interject or bring it up in conversation?
- If sales reps run across an article that mentions your competitors without mentioning your company, should the salespeople track down the author?
- If people are discussing your competitors in a LinkedIn group, should sales reps chime in by mentioning your product?
There’s no right or wrong answer. But here’s a good general rule of thumb: If it would be rude to butt into the conversation in real life, it’s probably rude on social media, as well.
Have a Protocol for Escalation
Every social selling playbook needs to have an escalation process. Your salespeople need to feel like your team will support them in the event that things turn ugly. (They probably won’t, but it’s always best to prepare for the worst.)
You should determine which categories of posts should be escalated and who should be in charge of handling them. Here are a couple times when comments should be escalated:
- Personal attacks
- Libellous claims
In those instances, your company’s legal and HR teams should be able to help. In your playbook, include the contact information of the appropriate parties and everyone’s role and responsibilities. Be sure to review the escalation process frequently, especially if employees frequently change roles in your company.
Consider Including an FAQs Section
A lot can go into a social selling playbook, and it’s impossible to include everything. A good playbook should anticipate the most frequently asked questions. For example, you might include:
- Examples of copy for LinkedIn connection requests
- How to use social networks in your sales development process – For example, should SDRs “be visible” when they look at someone’s profile? How often should they look at someone’s profile?
- Buying signals on social media – When should a sales rep introduce the product to someone? And how?
If you don’t know what to include, ask your sales reps. They probably have plenty of questions.
Finally, Keep Your Playbook Updated
Over time, you’ll learn about the strengths and weaknesses of your team, and you’ll have to adapt your playbook. Think of your social selling playbook as a living document. It should be updated on a regular basis because both your team and social media will change.
Trust me, your team will thank you. No wants to follow a social selling playbook that was last updated in 2012.
Looking to Launch Your Social Selling Program?
Download this interactive workbook, and learn how to successfully launch your program!
Here’s one of the best-kept secrets of social selling: If you want your sales team to be successful on social media, you need help from your marketing department. Without strong support from Marketing, getting your salespeople on social media is like herding cats.
But how exactly are marketers supposed to facilitate social selling? Let’s take a look at what the researchers are saying.
What’s Marketing’s Job in All of This?
On the topic of social selling, the leading research firms have surprisingly similar takes: Marketing needs to play a key role in social selling. As you skim the quotes below, note the similarities.
Peter O’Neill of Forrester writes:
The Aberdeen Group states:
Pop quiz: In one word, what unites these two quotes?
Answer: Content. (If you’re more verbose, you might respond with, “Sales enablement through content.”)
Indeed, a key component of any social selling program is content. And both Forrester and the Aberdeen Group position Marketing as the business unit that’s responsible for supplying content to Sales for their social networks.
Why Do You Need Content?
Think about it. If your salespeople don’t have content, what else are they going to share on social media? How will prospects notice them? How will they break the ice with potential buyers?
Through content, you can showcase your salespeople’s knowledge, turn them into go-to resources for industry-related insights, and empower them to have conversations with potential buyers.
Why Should Marketing Be Involved?
The term “social selling” contains the word “selling,” which leads you to believe that the program falls exclusively under the purview of Sales. Yet, the researchers cited above tell you to involve the marketing team. Why is that?
1. Your marketing team can communicate best practices on social media.
Most likely, your marketing team has led your company’s foray into social media, and since they have spent significant time on social media, they understand what works and what doesn’t work. They understand what buyers like to read and what they don’t like to read. Encourage your marketing team to share their knowledge with the sales team and create clearly defined best practices for them.
2. Your marketing team understands the right content mix.
It’s silly to think that all prospects on social media are ready to buy your product. On social media, some people may be in denial about their problem. They may have no clue that they need your product or services, and you don’t want to bombard those early-stage buyers with demo requests or come across as too pushy early on.
That’s why you need your marketers. Whereas salespeople are accustomed to discussing products and services with people who are actively seeking solutions, marketers have a more expansive view of the buyer’s journey.
Marketers are quite good at matching content to each stage of the journey, and they know what’s the right content mix. For example, they understand that thought leadership content performs better than product-oriented content on social media, and they will provide your sales team with a wide variety of content to share.
3. Your marketing team is familiar with your company’s readiness.
Let’s face it. Some companies are not ready for social selling. They’ve barely dipped their toes in the world of social media, and they’re just starting to discover what works.
But if your company has been active on social media for some time, your marketing team will have a realistic picture of your company’s readiness. They know where your company is right now and where your company should be in the future. And they will have an idea of how the sales organization can fit into the social vision for your company.
The Bottom Line
Before you jump into social selling, make sure that you have the support of your marketing department. The marketers in your company will be able to assess your company’s current situation, provide best practices, and set your salespeople up for success by supplying them with the right content and the right messages.
Ready to Start Working on Your Social Selling Strategy?
Download our social selling workbook. It walks you through the process of setting up your strategy.
What do employees want to share on social media?
That’s an essential question that companies should ask. Employees, after all, are the linchpin that holds together employee advocacy programs. Without knowledge of employees’ wants and needs, there won’t be widespread adoption, and you won’t see results.
Nonetheless, employees’ voices are missing from the research on the subject. Until now, employee advocacy surveys have focused on the buyers of advocacy solutions. Research reports have discussed companies’ plans for launching advocacy programs, but no one knows what employees want.
To dive into employees’ content preferences and opinions, we surveyed 400 U.S. employees, and here are three key takeaways from our survey The Trapit Content Report: Employee Outlook on Content Marketing and Distribution.
Too Many Companies Are Winging It
Organizations with more sophisticated programs have implemented systems and strategies that guide their employees. However, too many companies are still winging it.
One survey question threw this point into sharp relief. The majority of respondents (56.5%) indicated that they are encouraged to share content on social media during meetings.
Let’s think about this strategy for a second. First, employers are encouraging employees to share content during meetings, yet meetings are a time when we want employees to focus on what’s being said – not writing tweets or LinkedIn status updates. Hmm…
Second, few employees (28.2%) are encouraged to share content through technology. Without technology in place, how are you going to measure the impact of your employees’ social sharing?
Employees See the Value in Advocacy
To marketers, the benefits of social media are evident. But do your employees understand the benefits of sharing content on social media?
Curious to know the answer, we asked our survey respondents what benefits their companies see when employees share content with their social networks. The vast majority (74.9%) identified some type of benefit. (Only 10.2% saw no benefits whatsoever.)
- 11.2% said, “Sales – people buy our products when we talk about them positively”
- 42.7% said, “Awareness – people take notice when we share information about our company”
- 21.0% said, “Brand credibility – people trust our brand more when we share from our personal accounts”
Side note: Perhaps it’s not surprising that more respondents did not choose “Sales,” given that many marketers are still learning how to track the ROI of social media.
Employees Want Third-Party Content – Not Just Branded Content
As marketers, we invest large amounts of time and energy into creating content. Of course, we want our employees to see our content and acknowledge our hard work by sharing our blog posts, reports, infographics, slide decks, etc.
However, that’s not exactly what employees want. Sure, they want to share the company’s content, but they also want to share third-party content on social media.
- 55.0% of respondents indicated that sharing a mixture of third-party and company-created content is best for social media.
When we asked respondents to indicate their content preferences more forthrightly, the most common answer was related to third-party content. 33.7% of employees indicated that they are most likely to share news articles about the industry on social media.
The finding points up the need for third-party content curation. If companies want their employees to act as content distributors, companies should not only provide company-created content, but also information from around the web.
How to Apply This Knowledge
The opinions of 400 survey respondents should shape employee advocacy programs in two ways:
1. Before asking employees to share content on social media, organizations need to take the time to build an infrastructure:
- Document a strategy across the enterprise
- Select software that enables content storage, notifications, and social sharing
- Provide employees with clear guidelines for sharing content.
2. Give your employees what they want. The survey results show that employees are happy to share company-created content, but they don’t want to be corporate spam bots. They want to share third-party content, as well.
With those pieces in place, you’ll be well on your way to launching a strong employee advocacy program.
Check out the Full Survey Results
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On the Trapit blog, we’ve discussed the benefits of employee advocacy at length. Now we need to cover what it is not. There are many misconceptions about employee advocacy marketing. This post seeks to clear up those misconceptions.
1. It is not about advocating for your employees.
This is perhaps the biggest misconception. Employee advocacy does not mean advocating on your employees’ behalf (in the legal sense). Instead, it means asking your employees to advocate on your company’s behalf and to act as marketers: to share content, to build trust, and to drive sales.
2. It is not about creating fake employees.
Some companies are tempted to create fake Twitter profiles, complete with fake names and fake photos. The marketing department then operates these fake accounts, tries to pass them off as real employees, and writes fake status updates about the company on behalf of their fake employees.
That is not employee advocacy. If you’re tempted to institute such a program, you’re missing out. You’re failing to tap into your real employee’s networks and capitalize on their trusted, authentic relationships with friends, family, and colleagues.
3. It is not about pretending to like your company.
If you’re an employee who does not believe in your company’s products, services, or industry, you shouldn’t participate in your company’s advocacy program. Don’t pretend to be excited about something that does not interest you. Your followers will see through your feigned enthusiasm.
4. It is not about automation.
Don’t set up your advocacy platform in such a way that it automatically posts content to your employees’ social networks. This defeats the purpose of advocacy. You’re trying to give a more human, less robotic image to your company.
5. It is not about pitching.
Many of your employees’ followers will not be ready to buy your product or services. If your employees only share updates about your products or continuously solicit demo requests, their followers will be annoyed. Trust will be lost, and people will tune out your advocates.
Think about it as adding value. What can your employees share on social that will add value to their followers’ lives?
6. It is not about being on every social media network.
If an employee advocate loves LinkedIn but dislikes Pinterest, she shouldn’t have to be on Pinterest. Advocates are not social media managers. They do not have to be fluent in all social networks. They should pick the ones that feel comfortable for them.
7. It is not a replacement for other forms of marketing.
Companies with advocacy programs still need to run e-mail campaigns, nurture their leads, monitor their corporate social accounts, and write content. Think of your employee marketers as another channel.
8. It is not a solution that only benefits marketing.
Sure, marketing benefits from advocacy. Because of your advocacy program, more people see your marketing messages. But the perks do not stop there. Advocacy can also benefit your sales team, your human resources department, and even your CEO.
9. It is not innate.
We do not live in a sci fi world where babies come out of the womb tweeting. Your employees will need to be trained on social media best practices.
10. It is not magic.
If only you could buy an advocacy platform, then, sit back, relax, and watch the revenue pour in. Employee advocacy requires the right strategy, the right people, the right content, and the right technology. It will take some effort on your part.
Image via Jansos.
Want to learn more about what employee advocacy is?
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